Answers from the Experts: Addiction Counselor

Cali Estes
Master of Science in Criminal Psychology

From behind prison walls to working with those struggling with addiction, dull days are rare for professionals in the psychology field.

As an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University, Cali Estes interned at a prison and thought she wanted to counsel sex offenders and other criminals for a living, but another internship inspired her to pursue a career in addiction counseling.

Since earning her Master of Science in Criminal Psychology at West Chester University, Estes has built a 15-year career helping clients overcome their struggles with drug, alcohol, sex, food and gambling addictions. She also treats patients with stress and anxiety, PTSD, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle coaching.

Estes shared her advice to students interested in pursuing a degree in psychology:

Question: What can students do with a psychology degree?

Estes: Anything you do in life you can use psychology training — from sales to child care to marketing or being a CEO. You need to understand people to get ahead in society.

Question: What is the best advice you’d like to pass onto students about the field?

Estes: Study what interests you…clinical , industrial and organizational (I/O), social etc…it is all useful. Always take a course outside your realm to see if you like that style of psychology, so you can either rule it out or pursue it.”

Question: What classroom lessons stayed with you?

Estes: I remember one class where a policeman staged a man to come in and ‘fire a gun’ and ‘kill’ the professor. It was interesting to learn how all 28 of us had 28 different descriptions of the ‘perp’ and what he was wearing. We couldn’t even agree on a nationality. It was interesting to see how differently 28 brains interpreted the same exact scenario and how some of us created things that were not even there.”

Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @elisermarrion.